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[July 16, 2014]
Hospitality: Whitbread appoints Baker as chairman
(Guardian (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Richard Baker has taken his first prominent City role since the private equity-backed takeover of Alliance Boots in 2007, succeeding Anthony Habgood as chairman of Whitbread.
Baker has been a non-executive at the Costa Coffee and Premier Inn owner since 2009 and will take up his role at the start of September. Habgood is retiring after nine years in the job.
The former Asda executive, who is also chairman of Virgin Active Group and DFS Furniture, is best known for his tenure at Boots the Chemist between 2003 and 2007.
On his watch it merged with Alliance UniChem in 2005 and two years later Baker agreed the pounds 11bn sale to private equity firm KKR. He is expected to reduce his other business commitments over the next six months.
Whitbread, which made underlying pre-tax profits of pounds 411.8m on sales of pounds 2.3bn last year, has big growth plans. By 2018 its chief executive Andy Harrison plans to have increased the Premier Inn chain by 45% to around 75,000 UK rooms and to have roughly doubled sales at Costa to pounds 2bn. Zoe Wood (c) 2014 Guardian Newspapers Limited.
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